John 5:19, 30 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. By myself I can do nothing.
Something really clicked as I read this just now. This is exactly what Jesus later said about us, talking to His disciples in the upper room just before His crucifixion: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Jesus didn’t place any restrictions on us that He Himself didn’t deal with! He never took Himself away from the Father, and we likewise are to abide in Him. This is a picture of spiritual unity that we have great difficulty wrapping our minds around because of our present sinful imperfection. Anyone who claims to be perfectly in harmony with the Father and the Son right now is, at best, deceiving themselves. (Philippians 3:12-14) At worst, they are charlatans, trying to manipulate those around them. However, imperfect as we are, we still can act as God’s agents when our hearts are in line with Him, and just as Paul said in the passage just referenced, it should be our goal to do that with increasing frequency and fidelity. Our natural human tendency is to be “independent as a hog on ice,” as my mother used to say. Spiritual maturity is learning that we have no more hope of real success on our own than a pig with no traction would have. We are not to resent that but rather rejoice that God has made it possible, through Christ, for us to indeed operate in Him, and so do really worthwhile things.
I am as much in this paradigm as anyone else. Because of my upbringing I have been aware of dependence on God in theory all my life, but I have forgotten it in practice more times than I like to think about. Spiritual and intellectual pride have been huge weaknesses for me. God showed me that rather dramatically back in 1972, and I repented in tears, but I have had countless relapses since then. It was within the past 20 years that God finally got it through to me that He’s smart and I’m not. Up until then I thought it was a difference in degree, but even such thinking is blind pride. I am not to discount or ignore the gifts that God has placed in me, but I have got to remember, at all times and in all circumstances, that those gifts accomplish nothing good apart from submission to God. When I am totally available and submitted to Him, nothing is impossible because it is God working through me. When I am not so available and submitted, all of my limitations come into play, and they are countless. I’ve got to remember that not even Jesus operated apart from the Father.
Father, thank You for this powerful reminder. Thank You for all You did in the conference just passed, and all You are going to do right here today. Help me rest, relax, and rejoice in You, just as You have told me to do, so that Your will may be done in me, in this church, in this city, and in this nation, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!